I just got back from the LGBT Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative Summit in Washington, DC which was sponsored by Jonathan Lewis, Human Rights Campaign, Bolthouse Farms, Victory Fund, Center for American Progress Action Fund, National Organizing Institute, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and many others.
I met many different kinds of bloggers and writers. Some were personal bloggers who did not consider themselves activists while others were hard core activists and politicos. We all shared one thing in common: We all identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and/or Queer although everyone had different experiences of writing and of life itself. We each had our own story which helped us to create visibility by personalizing the gay rights struggle. By writing about individual instances, we are able to address the bigger picture at hand.
On Saturday, there was a tense discussion about Proposition 8 which led us to the question “who is to blame?” Fellow blogger Alex Blaze wrote a post summarizing the Prop 8 discussion on the Bilerico project. The pro-Prop 8 campaigns were run incredibly well. They focused on issues that affected people emotionally such as family and children while the opposition created counter-ads that seemed defensive and, to a point, offensive. No wonder we lost as badly as we did; our message was not as tight and strategic as it could have been.
Instead of telling our own stories, we jumped on the back of the Civil Rights Movement claiming that our struggles are the same African Americans faced. Instead of defining what we truly want when we say “marriage”, we’ve just thrown around broad terms that can mean anything to anyone. We need to focus on OUR story. The story of being able to adopt children and have families of our own. The story of being able to visit our partners in the hospital. The story of young school children who are ashamed to have same-sex parents because everything they’ve ever learned outside of the home has told them their family is not normal.